One-Minute Book Reviews

November 16, 2007

I Belong to the ‘Tribe of Chronic Masturbators,’ Says the Hero of ‘The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian,’ Winner of the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

By Janice Harayda

Remember how upset some librarians got when the word “scrotum” appeared on the first page of the 2007 Newbery Medal winner www.oneminutebookreviews.wordpress.com/2007/02/19/? I wonder what they’re going say to when they find out that the hero of Sherman Alexie’s The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian says that he belongs to “the tribe of chronic masturbators.”

Alexie’s novel won National Book Award for Young People’s Literature on Wednesday, so it’s safe to say that it will also receive consideration for the Newbery that the American Library Association www.ala.org will hand out in January. I’ll review the book in the next week or so (along with Daughter of York, originally scheduled for this week).

Until then librarians who want to check out that “good part” can do it by going to the listing for the novel on Amazon www.amazon.com and using the “Search Inside This Book” tool to search for “tribe of chronic masturbators,” which appears on page 217. [Note: All you teenage boys who found this site by searching for “scrotum” or “masturbation,” go back to your Social Studies. That page number was a public service for librarians.]

Oh, am I going to have fun reviewing this book! Please bookmark this site or subscribe to the RSS feed if you’d like to read my comments.

© 2007 Janice Harayda. All rights reserved.
www.janiceharayda.com

November 15, 2007

“It must be a gift of evolution that humans / Can’t sustain wonder … “ Quote of the Day From Robert Hass’s ‘Time and Materials,’ Winner of the 2007 National Book Award for Poetry

Robert Hass’s Time and Materials, winner of the 2007 National Book Award for poetry, deals with an unusually wide range of subjects for an 88-page collection — trees, a mother’s alcoholism, the war in Iraq. One of its best poems is “State of the Planet,” which marks the 50th anniversary of the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory at Columbia University. It includes this memorable sixain:

“It must be a gift of evolution that humans
Can’t sustain wonder. We’d never have gotten up
From our knees if we could. But soon enough
We’d have fashioned sexy little earrings from the feathers,
Highlighted our cheekbone by rubbings from the rock,
And made a spear from the sinewey wood of the tree.”

From Robert Hass’s “State of the Planet” in Time and Materials: Poems 1997–2005 (HarperCollins/Ecco, $22.95) www.eccobooks.com and www.nationalbook.org.

November 14, 2007

Alexie, Hass, Johnson and Weiner Win 2007 National Book Awards — Women Shut Out in Sweep for Male Authors

A tidal wave of testosterone at the National Book Awards ceremonyOne-Minute Book Reviews normally doesn’t cover breaking news. But the National Book Award winners announced tonight have been slow enough to appear on the Web that the policy is bending today. Here’s a complete list of the winners and finalists for the awards from the National Book Foundation site www.nationalbook.org. SNAP preview is always enabled on One-Minute Book Reviews, so you can put your cursor on aLiny of the links below and see an image of the page you’ll reach by clicking on it.FICTION

WINNER: Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) – Interview

Mischa Berlinski, Fieldwork (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) – Interview
Lydia Davis, Varieties of Disturbance (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) – Interview
Joshua Ferris, Then We Came to the End (Little, Brown & Company) – Interview
Denis Johnson, Tree of Smoke (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) – Interview
Jim Shepard, Like You’d Understand, Anyway (Alfred A. Knopf) – Interview

Fiction judges: Francine Prose (chair), Andrew Sean Greer,
Walter Kirn, David Means, and Joy Williams.NONFICTION

WINNER: Tim Weiner, Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA (Doubleday) – Interview

Edwidge Danticat, Brother, I’m Dying (Alfred A. Knopf) – Interview
Christopher Hitchens, God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything
(Twelve/Hachette Book Group USA) – Interview
Woody Holton, Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution
(Hill and Wang/Farrar, Straus and Giroux) – Interview
Arnold Rampersad, Ralph Ellison: A Biography (Alfred A. Knopf) – Interview

Nonfiction judges: David Shields (chair), Deborah Blum,
Caroline Elkins, Annette Gordon-Reed, and James Shapiro.

POETRY
WINNER: Robert Hass, Time and Materials (Ecco/HarperCollins) – Interview

Linda Gregerson, Magnetic North (Houghton Mifflin Company) – Interview
David Kirby, The House on Boulevard St.
(Louisiana State University Press) – Interview
Stanley Plumly, Old Heart (W.W. Norton & Company) – Interview
Ellen Bryant Voigt, Messenger: New and Selected Poems 1976-2006
(W.W. Norton & Company) – Interview

Poetry Judges: Charles Simic (chair), Linda Bierds, David St. John,
Vijay Seshadri, and Natasha Trethewey.

YOUNG PEOPLE’S LITERATURE
WINNER: Sherman Alexie, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian
(Little, Brown & Company) – Interview

Kathleen Duey, Skin Hunger: A Resurrection of Magic, Book One
(Atheneum Books for Young Readers) – Interview
M. Sindy Felin, Touching Snow (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) – Interview
Brian Selznick, The Invention of Hugo Cabret (Scholastic Press) – Interview
Sara Zarr, Story of a Girl (Little, Brown & Company) – Interview
Young People’s Literature Judges: Elizabeth Partridge (chair),
Pete Hautman, James Howe, Patricia McCormick, and Scott Westerfeld

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